Black Panther producer Nate Moore explains how the character of M'Baku was changed for the better in Marvel's upcoming film. Not long ago, the first trailer for Black Panther offered us our best look yet at Wakanda and the many characters that inhabit it. From those quick shots, we were able to unpack a lot about the movie, including its story of political upheaval and focus on family legacy. In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War and T'Challa's ascension to the throne, Wakanda will find itself in a crisis.
Part of the film's journey will be about T'Challa dealing with his father's legacy and ushering Wakanda into the global spotlight. Thanks to these moves, however, new villains will emerge for the young king. While Erik Killmonger will pose quite a threat, Klaue will be the film's chief antagonist. They won't be alone, though. A brief shot in the trailer gave us our first look at Winston Duke as M'Baku. Now, we have an even better portrait of the comic book rogue.
Along with the photos of the cast we saw yesterday, EW has the first image of M'Baku from Black Panther along with some new context for his character. From the image alone, it's clear he won't look like he does on the page. That said, the roots of his character will be honored.
In the comics, M'Baku is one of Black Panther's chief foes. Known as the villain Man-Ape, his ostentatious white gorilla costume and his racially-charged name proved a particular challenge for Marvel. While they could have abandoned the use of the supervillain, executive producer Nate Moore explains why they decided to adapt him into the world of the MCU.
“We don’t call him Man-Ape. We do call him M’Baku. Having a black character dress up as an ape, I think there’s a lot of racial implications that don’t sit well, if done wrong. But the idea that they worship the gorilla gods is interesting because it’s a movie about the Black Panther who, himself, is a sort of deity in his own right.”
From the photo, it's clear certain comic aspects where carried over. Chief among them are the accents of fur and the augmented chest and forearms. Other than that, M'Baku fits into the more grounded world of Wakanda in the MCU. By removing the name Man-Ape, the film also distances itself from superheroes and villains.
As Black Panther is a ceremonial title, it makes sense that T'Challa's political opponents wouldn't simply adopt colorful names and costumes. Furthermore, Killmonger and M'Baku won't be outright villains. As the leader of Wakanda's mountain clan, M'Baku is merely operating under a different set of beliefs.
“In M’Baku’s worldview, T’Chaka made a huge mistake going to the U.N. ‘We should never engage with the outside world. That’s a terrible mistake. And if his son is anything like his father, I don’t support him being on the throne.' Politically, he just has different ideology."
These warring ideals will also help the film mirror The Godfather; a world the creators are keen on emulating. And by crafting communities and families within the country that hold differing political, religious, and social beliefs, Black Panther will be able to create a diverse and realistic portrayal of Wakanda.